Nick is an entrepreneur and artist manager with a unique and very dynamic path. He’s worked in countless professions, including sales, retail, marketing, all the way to tour management, live event production, and eventually putting on his own concerts– he’s even spent time playing professional poker. We sat down with Nick to talk about his winding career path, and how he shaped his music management career to perfectly match his values and personality.
What’s something unique about your career story?
I quit the highest paying job I’ve ever had working at a Yaletown software company to go play poker. I didn’t quit that job necessarily thinking I was going to make more money playing poker, although I thought it was possible. I quit because I knew I would be able to do what I want, make my own schedule, and work from anywhere. So I left the city, moved to Whistler, hiked in the mountains and played cards online.
Many people might look at that like it was an irresponsible or reckless decision, but the truth is, I learned about what’s meaningful for me. I learned that I actually wanted to do something purposeful with my life instead of just playing games every day and essentially gambling. I wanted to create something and have a sense of self-expression.
How have you incorporated your strongest interests and values, and/or natural strengths into your career?
At the core of my interests and values, I want to create amazing experiences for people. That’s my goal. I decided to do that through events in the field of music, whether I’m playing my own songs, promoting a show, or putting a band on tour across the country.
If you put me at a desk from Monday to Friday, I would be miserable. I really am less productive in that
environment. I’m more comfortable in the field, dealing with people, managing variables, being creative, and facing new challenges. That’s where I thrive, and where my strengths lie. I’ve done the desk job office thing, and it’s secure, reliable, and you get a paycheck every week– but I didn’t get any sense of fulfillment from that. It didn’t excite me.
This self-awareness and insight really inspired me to push forward with music management.
You said that your goal is to create amazing experiences for people. How important is it to have an overarching life goal like that?
It’s critical. If you’re not focused on a specific goal, you’re sort of aimless, unless you work for a company that gives
you objectives and you’re happy to fulfill those. But if you work for yourself or want to start your own business, you have to know what that big goal is for you. What’s going to light you up? If you had infinite resources and the rest of your life, what would you do? Would you build a house? Start a band? Create an award winning software app? Design video games? If it’s a video game, what kind of video game? And so on and so on.
A lot of students have main goals like ‘land the job’ or ‘get in the school’. That’s what’s on the top of their minds. What are your thoughts on that?
I have a biased opinion obviously, but I don’t believe in the lifestyle of going to school, landing the job, and having the corporation nurse you into retirement. Most companies now are hiring more contractors, giving less benefits, outsourcing and cutting costs wherever they can.
But of course, people are worried about paying the bills, moving out of their parents’ house, and advancing forward with their life. I totally get that, and that was my perspective for a long time—until I tried it, and got fed up with it. I hated being treated like a number.
My advice would be to try it, and if you find that an annual salary will make you happy, and a desk job is going to make it happen, then great! But if you start to find that it doesn’t make you happy, and you’re thirsty for something more meaningful, then it might be time to explore what’s possible for you elsewhere.
At the core of my interests and values, I want to create amazing experiences for people. That’s my goal… If you’re not focused on a specific goal, you’re sort of aimless, unless you work for a company that gives you objectives and you’re happy to fulfill those. But if you work for yourself or want to start your own business, you have to know what that big goal is for you.
What advice would you give to a student trying to break into the music management business?
Meet people, network, and go to events. If you manage a band and you want them to play on TV, it’s a lot harder to make that happen if you don’t know the producer of the TV station or the performance coordinator. If they know who you are and they need a last minute performer or a band for an upcoming show, they will go to you.
Knowing people is especially important in the world of music, where there is so much expression in performance. People are drawn to that because it speaks to their souls, music is something very human. So the people working in music are often very personable and interesting. That said, every industry has its eccentric weirdos.
This applies for any business, when you write that e-mail, or make that phone-call, people are way more likely to respond if they know who you are or have done business with you previously. Especially, in our chaotic modern world.
A great piece of advice is to try and be the easiest person to work with. Chris Brandt taught me that, he’s on the team at Music Heals and also teaches at BCIT.
What advice would you give to students trying to find their path?
School is important, but it’s not the most important thing. I know a lot of people are going into debt, spending tens of thousands of dollars to get their degree. That might be very valuable with respect to the industry you’re going into; if you want to be a doctor, you need the education, paperwork, and training. If you want to be the lead singer in a band, you really don’t need a business degree. You need a different kind of education. You could be a high school dropout and still nail it. I didn’t go to school for music, I went for professional sales & marketing. I had some skills that applied well in music management, but nobody taught me how to promote a show, or book a tour. I learned these things by myself, out of sheer passion. I networked, asked questions, read, took courses.
I would read books, too. All of the most successful entrepreneurs and tech geniuses read. Reading lets you pick up information from the best experts in their fields.
It’s helpful to be introspective, and understand your strengths and weaknesses. Also, I think it’s important to maintain an active level of curiosity, and always be learning. Learning doesn’t necessarily mean reading or going to classes. It could be making mistakes, trying new things or getting over your fear of failure.
To reach Nick or find out more about him, check out his LinkedIn here. If you want to learn more about Nick’s work, you can check out the Sovereign Music Management website, or see the work of his client Greg Drummond here.
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